CLEAN LIVING


The beauty of the current craving for content and storytelling is that it means tales get told that are well overdue. Some of that is down to the older generation taking greatness for granted and not putting it down on video or paper, some is down to ignorance and some is just the assumption that there was already a documentation of the thing in question. It’s baffling to think that all these years have passed without a John Simons documentary — he has been mentioned in many key texts, but his is a story of working class kids absorbing overseas cultures with a discerning filter that turned dressing up into an artform in itself is amazing. Simons has long been the gatekeeper to a world of well-dressed yankophiles where the little details were the secret signals that connected club members — something as small as the roll of a collar could get the nod. But it’s far more than that, because even for us scruffs, Simons brought over Pendletons, Golden Bear and was searching for the perfect sweatshirt long before blogs. He’s one of the original obsessives, setting trends since 1955. I’ve long wondered what the difference is between a mod and a modernist, but from conversations with those better dressed than myself, the modernist preempted the mods — a sharp reaction to popular styles of the time and the groundbreaking movies and music released then and, while I’ve long assumed art’s modernist works of the 1950s and 1960s were something very different, the hard-edged geometric abstract work of the era seems to complement the attitude and a connected appetite for more avant-garde sounds and literature, but contrast with a love of natural shoulders on a jacket. Putting the majority of the #menswear brigade who get wowed by the sight of a pocket square and tie-pin to shame, John Simons knows and (longtime garment and culture connector) Jason Jules and friends have put together this Kickstarter to raise funds to make a full-length documentary on Simons’ history and legacy called The Neat Offensive. Between this and the Kickstarter-funded Duffer project, it’s good to see the kind of things the BBC would be unlikely to payroll can come to fruition.